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Sunday, 24 September 2006

fresh bay leaves (WHB#51: bay laurel)

Filed under: crossblogging,food & drink,WHB — ejm @ 11:58 EDT

summary: making chicken stock; information about Bay Laurel for Weekend Herb Blogging; click on image to see larger view

WHB#51: bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) revisited

chicken stock Now that the nights are cool, we have been craving soup and making stock at every opportunity. The stock is never exactly the same but it is always good.

Today I used fresh herbs because we had them. If there aren’t fresh herbs, I use dried. And lots of times we don’t have all of the other ingredients on hand. We make the stock anyway and as long as onion, herbs, carrot are included, the stock is delicious. (Here is the chicken stock recipe that we follow.)

Because we have a bay tree growing in a pot in the garden, we have the luxury of being able to use fresh bay leaves. They are SO much better than the crispy grey leaves sold in little jars in the supermarket!

Last night we had the best hickory smoked barbecued chicken. T covered the chicken in our version of “Old Bay” spice rub. (I confess that we’ve never actually tried the real “Old Bay Seasoning” but trust me, this rub is one of the best seasonings for chicken that I can imagine.) I’ll report more on that fantastic dinner later….

This morning, I threw the carcass – aromatic with “Old Bay” and hickory smoke – into a stockpot with onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, cloves, celery seed, a fresh bay leaf, a couple of dried mushrooms, dried cayenne chili and just enough water to cover the bones.

I love that this particular chicken stock has both fresh bay and dried bay, from crushed dried bay leaves that went into the Old Bay Seasoning. And yes, those dried bay leaves were from our tree too. Dried bay leaves that haven’t been sitting around gathering dust for several years are almost as intensely flavoured as the fresh ones….
The stock is on a slow slow simmer now. Don’t you wish you could be in our kitchen to inhale this wonderful perfume?

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging: bay laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Bay Laurel is a tender perennial that likes rich organic soil, sun and warmth, but it can tolerate some shade. Night temperatures shouldn’t go much below 10C. Water daily when it is very hot. But take care that the soil doesn’t get waterlogged.

When night temperatures start to fall below 10C, bring the pot indoors for the winter. Keep it in bright light and water when the soil is dry. In spring when night temperatures are above 10C, bring the pot outside. Veil it from the sun for the first two weeks to gradually reintroduce it to the intense outdoor light.

Once the plant is well established (2 feet tall with plenty of leaves), use fresh whole leaves as required. One leaf in soup stock is plenty. Try not to take too many leaves over the winter as the plant is in dormancy.

Read more about bay laurel:

Next week is WHB’s 1st anniversary! For complete details on how to participate, please go to:


  • kalyn

    Hey, did I miss this or did you forget to send it to me? I just found it on my feed reader. I’ll edit and add it in. Thanks for all the links for information about the anniversary.

  • ejm

    It’s my pleasure, Kalyn. Even though it will mean more work for you, the more people who celebrate the 1st anniversary, the better. I get such great ideas from seeing the roundups.

    I did email but for some reason my address is being blocked by your server. The mail was returned. (Maybe it didn’t like that there was a link??)

  • Paz

    Oh, yum! I was reading about the aphrodisac properties of bay leaves, today. Your stock looks good.

    Question: What do you store the stock in after it’s cooks. Last time I used those glass jars and put them in the freezer. Of course, they broke. *sigh* I’ve learned my lesson now. I need to find the proper container to use.


  • ejm

    We put the cooled stock into 750ml plastic containers that yoghurt comes in. Each yoghurt container has a plastic bag around it with as much of the air sucked out as possible (to prevent freezer burn).

    I also keep meaning to put some stock into plastic wrapped icecube trays for those times that we want just a little stock to enhance gravy or stew.

  • bing

    We put stock in resealable freezer bags, freezing it flat. Once it’s frozen, it can usually be whacked or dropped, and it will break apart into convenient sized pieces. If it’s too thick to break, it’s easy to chop off a bit with a cleaver. (The richer the stock, the easier it is to chop or break.)

  • ejm

    What a good idea to freeze it flat. I’ll definitely do that with the next batch of stock.

  • paz

    Thank you both for your tips!



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